The Hill’s Morning Report — Democrats pivot to same-sex marriage

·15 min read

Congress has its hands full this week as the House pushes ahead with a vote to codify same-sex marriage and Senate Democrats continue to wonder what to do about Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) amid a last-gasp effort to pass a budget reconciliation bill of any type.

For the second time in less than a week, House Democrats are focusing on responses to the Supreme Court as the chamber will vote on a pair of bills: the Respect for Marriage Act, aimed at protecting same-sex marriages, and the Right to Contraception Act, which would cement the ability to obtain contraceptives.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other top Democrats have framed the vote as a rejection of Justice Clarence Thomas’s opinion in last month’s ruling striking down Roe v. Wade that the court should reexamine those two items as rights.

“This week, the House will pass two more bills to protect freedom in our nation, as extremist Justices and lawmakers take aim at more of our basic rights,” Pelosi said in a note to House Democrats on Monday.

“Our Right to Contraception Act will preserve the essential protections found in Griswold v. Connecticut. Our Respect for Marriage Act – which, proudly, is bipartisan and bicameral – will defend the right to marry whomever you love, as found in Obergefell v. Hodges and Loving v. Virginia,” she added.

The Respect for Marriage Act is set to be voted on today, with the contraceptives vote expected later this week (The Hill).

House Democrats last week approved two measures that push back against the court’s ruling to turn abortion over to the states. Both bills are unlikely to advance because of the Senate’s 60-vote hurdle.

The future of the two bills being voted on tonight, however, is more murky. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Monday projected optimism that there could be a path forward on the two bills in the upper chamber despite a likely steep climb.

The Hill: House Democrats tout bill to add four seats to Supreme Court.

The Washington Post: Abortion fight moves to terrain least favorable to Republicans.

The Hill: Vice President Harris says rights under assault from “extremist so-called leaders.”

Across the Capitol hallways, Manchin on Monday maintained that he has not walked away from talks on a reconciliation package including a climate and tax agreement.

However, some Senate Democrats appear ready to do just that as they turn the page on that effort and have refocused on a proposal aimed at lowering prescription drug costs and extending Affordable Care Act subsidies for two years.

Faced with a choice of passing a scaled-down package or gambling on a climate bill and potentially walking away empty-handed, Democrats are prepared to get a small win after a year of being burned by talks with the West Virginia centrist that have landed them in the current awkward situation.

“I’d go with the former rather than the latter,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) (Politico).

The anger within the Senate Democratic caucus reached the point where multiple members have questioned why Manchin is still the chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), however, has not gone near that line, as he still needs Manchin’s support on key votes throughout the rest of the year at least. Durbin on Monday swatted away chatter about revoking Manchin’s chairmanship, telling reporters that Democrats shouldn’t risk their majority by “purging our ranks.”

Adding to the drama, Schumer continues to hold out hope that the moderate Democrat will seek a third term in 2024 in the deep-red state.

As The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports, other Democrats are trying to make the best of the situation and have urged President Biden to use his pen to deal with climate provisions. They have also reminded themselves that the Trump-era tax cuts are due to expire in 2025.

The Hill: White House pushes for health-only budget reconciliation package.

The Washington Post: Biden could declare climate emergency as soon as this week.

The New York Times: How Manchin left a global tax deal in limbo.

The Hill: How states could play a key role in the climate fight with Congress stalled.

Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent, The Washington Post: Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) eruption at Manchin highlights a deeper party difference.

On the investigative side, a pair of former Trump administration officials will headline Thursday’s primetime hearing before the Jan. 6 committee. Matthew Pottinger, the former deputy national security adviser who was in the West Wing on Jan. 6, 2021, and Sarah Matthews, a former press aide, will publicly testify to the panel about former President Trump’s lack of an effort to quell the riot at the Capitol. Both individuals resigned following the attack.

Both Pottinger and Matthews have sat for meetings behind closed doors with the committee. Snippets of their testimony have been shown at prior hearings. At one point, Pottinger testified that he told then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows that the National Guard was not yet at the Capitol, and that the former North Carolina lawmaker said he had made a number of calls to the Pentagon to do so (The New York Times).

Matthews, who was also in the West Wing on the day of, is expected to discuss the efforts to have Trump release a statement during those crucial hours. Testimony given two weeks ago by then-White House counsel Pat Cipollone is also expected to be used throughout the hearing.

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Rebecca Beitsch and Mike Lillis, The Hill: Secret Service set to turn over ‘erased’ Jan. 6 texts. 

Politico: “Sprint through the finish”: Why the Jan. 6 committee isn’t nearly done.

Bloomberg News: Chips bill gains steam in Senate despite last-minute lobbying. 

LEADING THE DAY

POLITICS

The battle lines intensified in the Arizona GOP governor’s primary on Monday as former Vice President Mike Pence threw his support behind Karrin Taylor Robson, spurning Kari Lake, Trump’s preferred choice, only weeks before primary day.

In a statement, Pence hailed Robson as “the only candidate for Governor that will keep Arizona’s border secure and streets safe, empower parents and create great schools, and promote conservative values,” adding that he is ”proud to support her.”

The endorsement also puts the former VP on the same side as Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R), who appointed Robson to head the state’s three public universities from 2017 until announcing she jumped in the gubernatorial race. Ducey is term-limited (The Hill).

It also sets up an intriguing split screen on Friday when both Trump and Pence will be on the ground in the Grand Canyon State to stump for their candidates of choice. Trump was forced to reschedule his planned rally on behalf of Lake, initially set for last Saturday, to Friday due to the death of Ivana Trump, his first wife.

The move also comes as the two candidates lob grenades at each other. Robson’s campaign outspent Lake 5-to-1 as of the end of June, drawing from her family’s wealth to flood the airwaves, and it has worked (The Associated Press). Having lagged far behind Lake in polls, Robson has pulled the contest close to even, bringing matters to a head.

“I’d say it’s a bloodbath right now,” one Arizona GOP operative told the Morning Report, noting the personal nature of the broadsides by both campaigns. “Add that to the [Republican Governors Association] beating Trump angle and the rumors of a Pence/Ducey ticket [in 2024], plus the 117 F weather makes everyone a bit crazy, and you are left with a super nasty primary.”

Aaron Blake, The Washington Post: Pence turns Arizona into biggest test of a post-Trump GOP yet.

The Hill: Five races to watch in Maryland’s primaries.

Elsewhere on the 2022 scene, Sanders made his mark in the Wisconsin Senate contest on Monday by endorsing Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes in the Democratic primary.

Sanders is the latest senator to back Barnes, who has also earned the support of Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), the latter of whom campaigned in Milwaukee for the Senate candidate. According to the most recent Marquette University Law School survey, Barnes and Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry lead the race with 25 percent and 21 percent support, respectively (The Hill).

The New York Times: House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) uses personal fortune in primary against House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.).

Emily Brooks, The Hill: Eyeing majority, House GOP mulls election investigations.

The Hill: California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) plants flag on climate, spurring 2024 chatter.

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

ADMINISTRATION

All presidents have to-do lists of policies, responses and draft executive actions still on the stove. Advisers differ. Timing becomes a consideration. Other issues take precedence. And let’s not forget politics.

Examples: On Saturday, Biden said, “I don’t think anyone … should be in prison for the use of marijuana” when asked about his campaign pledge to release inmates imprisoned on marijuana charges. “We’re working on the crime bill now,” the president told a reporter. He has said similar things before, but some Democrats who believe the midterms could use a lift of enthusiasm from mobilized young progressives are paying close attention to what the president does next on the subject of marijuana. In 2020, Biden said he supported decriminalization but not legalization (High Times).

That brings us to student loan debt forgiveness. Biden has said “no” to Democratic proposals to waive student loans debts of up to $50,000 per borrower, but he has opened the door to $10,000 for those earning under $150,000 a year and extended help last year to 22,000 borrowers through a federal debt forgiveness program (Business Insider). Some predict the $10,000 announcement Biden has been mulling for half his term could be announced this month or in August. The government’s “pause” on student loan payments during the COVID-19 crisis expires Aug. 31 (Business Insider).

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo recently said Biden “shortly” would decide whether to lift U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports, which were levied by the Trump administration. Biden contradicted the secretary’s predicted timeline. “No, we are having further discussions on that,” he told reporters on July 10. The president continues to woo unions during public events and outreach, and organized labor wants the tariffs to remain. Most important to Biden, according to Raimondo: not “hurting American workers.” Analysts who want the Trump tariffs unchanged say U.S. inflation will not improve significantly if Biden eases the policy. Raimondo has conceded that point. Businesses say they are eager to hear from the president. He’s widely expected to lift or reduce tariffs on a relatively tiny fraction of imports: as little as $10 billion worth of Chinese products out of the roughly $350 billion in goods slapped with tariffs by his predecessor. Trade watchers want to know when (The Hill).

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in Korea called for the United States and allies to fortify supply chains to combat China’s “unfair trade practices” (The Hill). (Her speech occurred Monday night EST, Tuesday in Seoul). In her remarks, the secretary vowed tough U.S. measures against countries that break the international economic order (Reuters).

🥾 Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, 61, broke her left leg (fibula) while hiking Sunday in Shenandoah National Park, the Interior Department said in a statement Monday. Haaland’s appreciation of the outdoors and fitness were on display last year when she completed the Boston Marathon, held on Indigenous Peoples’ Day (The Washington Post).

🔬 Anthony Fauci, 81, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Politico during a wide-ranging interview that he will retire from government by the time Biden finishes his term. He has been in government for five decades and served seven presidents. To many, he may be the face of the government’s COVID-19 response, but when he talks about his legacy, Fauci speaks about his work to respond to HIV-AIDS.

📝 Introducing NotedDC, The Hill’s curated commentary on the beat of the Beltway. Click here to subscribe to our latest newsletter.

OPINION

■ Blame summer for Democrats’ failures? Not so fast, by Jonathan Bernstein, columnist, Bloomberg Opinion. https://bloom.bg/3oasOY7

■ These conditions could end the war in Ukraine, but they won’t happen soon, by Carl Bildt, contributing columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3PsVKGu

WHERE AND WHEN

The House will meet at 10 a.m.

The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. to resume consideration of the nomination of Nina Y. Wang to be a district judge with the U.S. District Court in Colorado.

The president and the vice president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10 a.m.

Attorney General Merrick Garland at 1 p.m. will speak during a ceremonial swearing-in event for Steven Dettelbach, director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, at the ATF headquarters in Washington. Dettelbach will also make remarks.

The White House daily briefing is scheduled at 3 p.m.

🖥  Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv, on YouTube and on Facebook at 10:30 a.m. ET. Also, check out the “Rising” podcast here.

ELSEWHERE  

INTERNATIONAL

In Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky has taken aim at a different, shadowy enemy: spies and collaborators in government and society who are providing crucial help to the invading Russian forces. Russian sympathizers are reporting the locations of Ukrainian targets such as garrisons and ammunition depots, Ukraine’s officials say. Priests have sheltered Russian officers and informed on Ukrainian activists in Russian-occupied areas. One official said collaborators had removed explosives from bridges, allowing Russian troops to cross. The problem was cast into sharp relief on Sunday night when Zelensky purged two senior law enforcement officials (The New York Times).

The Wall Street Journal reports on Ukraine’s difficulties in moving complex Western-provided weapons systems to the front lines. Ukraine’s forces have little training with varied, sophisticated systems from multiple allies, which are not integrated.

Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska will address Congress on Wednesday, and all members have been invited. She met on Monday in Washington with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and will meet again with first lady Jill Biden following their get-together in May (The Associated Press).

The impact of Russia’s war against Ukraine is being felt in Europe after five months of sanctions, particularly when it comes to strained energy supplies and rising costs. The signs across Europe are evident, from rationing to economic distress in some industries, The Associated Press reports. Meanwhile, Russia benefits from higher energy prices. As a major oil and natural gas exporter, Russia honed an agile central bank and has years of experience living with sanctions. Moscow has managed to stabilize the ruble and inflation, despite the country’s pariah status in the West.

The Associated Press: Europe’s leaders look to ink energy deals to work around Russia.

The Hill: Iran over the weekend sanctioned dozens of current and former U.S. officials for what Tehran said is support for the Mujahedin, which it views as a “terrorist group.”

Russia’s Gazprom has told customers in Europe it cannot guarantee natural gas supplies because of “extraordinary” circumstances, upping the ante in an economic tit-for-tat with the West over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine (Reuters and The Wall Street Journal). There are worries Gazprom could turn off the tap this week.

To make matters more precarious in Western Europe, severe heat forced Great Britain to declare a national emergency as temperatures overnight hit a record and today’s prediction is 104 degrees Fahrenheit (The New York Times), while France and Spain are battling wildfires and evacuating thousands of citizens (The Guardian). … More than 1,100 people are thought to have died due to the ongoing heatwave in southern Europe (CNN).

On Monday, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned about what he called climate change “collective suicide” as the heat wave grips Europe. In a video message delivered to a Berlin conference, Guterres urged collective action to shift away from greenhouse gas-producing fossil fuels (CNBC).

POX & PANDEMIC  

This morning, the House select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis convenes a hearing about the condition known as long COVID. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that overall, 1 in 13 U.S. adults, or 7.5 percent, have “long COVID” symptoms, defined as symptoms lasting three or more months after first contracting the virus. Millions of Americans suffering from long COVID have trouble qualifying for disability benefits, although COVID-19 diagnosis is a federally recognized disability, albeit one that’s difficult to diagnose and verify (Global Biodefense).

The nation’s capital now leads the country in per capita cases of monkeypox infection (The Washington Post). … The New York City Health Department decided to switch to a single-dose vaccine strategy to battle the city’s monkeypox outbreak (Politico). Officials in both cities have asked the administration for more doses of monkeypox vaccine.

Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported as of this morning, according to Johns Hopkins University (trackers all vary slightly): 1,024,266. Current average U.S. COVID-19 daily deaths are 336, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

PRICING, INNOVATION, COMPETITION

Dozens of companies reported second-quarter earnings on Monday. High inflation gives them cover to telegraph price increases that hit consumers and exceed the companies’ own cost burdens, economists argue (The Hill).

China and Russia are beating U.S. companies in the race to secure contracts in Chile, Argentina and Bolivia to extract lithium, which has seen explosive growth because of lithium-ion batteries. The Hill’s Rafael Bernal interviews Otto Reich, assistant secretary of State under former President George W. Bush, about how U.S. negotiators get left at the curb. “My friends in the hemisphere, and my own observations, tell me that the Chinese are ‘eating our lunch.’ Their diplomats are active, visible, responsive and skilled, just like U.S. officials used to be, except they are said to be more willing to use ‘financial incentives’ [bribes] to convince foreign decision-makers to ‘buy Chinese,’” Reich said.

THE CLOSER

And finally …  What can you do in two hours, 18 minutes and 11 seconds? If you are Gotytom Gebreslase of Ethiopia, you can smash a 17-year-old world championship record in the women’s marathon.

Gebreslase took home the win in the women’s event on Monday after pulling away from Kenya’s Judith Jeptum Korir, who made a late charge. Gebreslase won by nine seconds to take home the gold.

Monday also marked a second day of dominance by Ethiopians in the event. Tamirat Tola took home the men’s title in 2 hours, 5 minutes and 36 seconds on Sunday, a record at the world championships (ESPN).

Stay Engaged

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